Dalton medieval village and parts of its associated medieval open field system centred 620m ENE of Dalton Hall


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Dalton medieval village and parts of its associated medieval open field system centred 620m ENE of Dalton Hall
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1021249 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 21-Oct-2019 at 15:56:55.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Lakeland (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 54156 76005, SD 54220 75540, SD 54340 75898

Reasons for Designation

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in the Lancashire Lowlands sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area extending from the moorlands of the western Pennines to the coastal plain with its villages and hamlets. The southern part of the sub-Province supports high densities of dispersed settlements, but there are much lower densities further north, in the Craven Lowlands, the Ribble Valley and the areas around Morecambe Bay. In the Middle Ages the larger, lowland settlements were supported by `core' arable lands, communally cultivated, with enclosed fields around them. The uplands contained sheep and cattle farms and seasonally occupied `shieling' settlements.

Extending beyond the strict bounds of Lancashire this southern sector of Cumbria has lost the high mountains of the Lake District. Framed by a series of strong ridges, trending north to south, the valleys of the Duddon, Crake, Leven and Kent, result in rolling valley landscapes where countrysides are lower, more kindly, and with more wood than further north. These give way, often with startling speed, to the rough pastures of silted estuaries and the marginal lands of the shallow seas. The scatter of towns and villages is probably largely post-Norman, imposed by conquerors over earlier levels of scattered farmsteads and hamlets. As late as the year 685 it was possible for the monks of Lindisfarne to receive a grant of `Cartmel, with all the Britons belonging to it', emphasising the Celtic roots of the cultural landscapes of this region.

Medieval villages were organised agricultural communities, sited at the centre of a parish or township, that shared resources such as arable land, meadow and woodland. Village plans varied enormously, but when they survive as earthworks their most distinguishing features include roads and minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. They frequently included the parish church within their boundaries, and as part of the manorial system most villages included one or more manorial centres which may also survive as visible remains as well as below ground deposits. In the northern and western province of England medieval villages occurred infrequently amid areas of otherwise dispersed settlement and good examples are therefore proportionally infrequent. Thus their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources for understanding rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman conquest.

Medieval villages were supported by a communal system of agriculture based on large, unenclosed open arable fields. These large fields were subdivided into strips (known as lands) which were allocated to individual tenants. The cultivation of these strips with heavy ploughs pulled by oxen-teams produced long, wide ridges, and where it survives the resultant `ridge and furrow' is the most obvious physical indication of the open field system. Individual strips or lands were laid out in groups known as furlongs defined by terminal headlands at the plough turning points and lateral grass banks. Furlongs were in turn grouped into large open fields. Well-preserved ridge and furrow, especially in its original context adjacent to village earthworks, is both an important source of information about medieval agrarian life and a distinctive contribution to the character of the historic landscape. It is usually now covered by the hedges or walls of subsequent field enclosure.

Lynchets are a feature of the agricultural landscape caused by ploughing and are found along the edges of a field or are located along the contours within the field unit. Field boundaries, such as banks or walls, become enlarged and overlain by hillwash material loosened by the cultivation process, which builds up against them under the action of gravity. This accumulation of earth is known as a positive lynchet. A corresponding erosion from the downslope side of the boundary forms a negative lynchet. Together the positive and negative lynchets form a terrace or a series of terraces on a hillside and thus provide distinctive traces of medieval and earlier agricultural activity. Medieval lynchets can be recognised in the long rectangular fields, the so-called strip-lynchets, laid out on sloping terrain in post-Roman and medieval times.

A substantial proportion of the earthworks and buried remains of Dalton medieval village and its associated open field system survives well and remains undisturbed by modern development. It is a good example of this class of monument in the Lancashire-over-Sands and Kentdale local region and will add greatly to our understanding of the wider settlement and economy during the medieval period.


The monument, which is divided into three separate areas of protection, includes the earthworks and buried remains of Dalton medieval village and parts of its associated medieval open field system. It is located south of the Burton-in-Kendal to Whittington minor road and lies either side of the access road to Dalton Old Hall, with those parts of the monument lying to the east of the access road occupying rising ground. Although the date of the first settlement at Dalton is unknown the village was recorded in the Domesday Book. Dalton is mentioned in the Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1334/36 and is shown on an estate plan of 1690 and the 1820 tithe map. The village had been abandoned by the time the first Ordnance Survey map was published in 1847. The main part of Dalton medieval village is centred at approximately SD54337590 and includes the remains of buildings, enclosures, field boundaries, trackways and lynchets which occupy natural terraces on the hillslope. On the lowest ground, just east of the access road to Dalton Old Hall, an abandoned track runs almost parallel to the modern access road. Flanking this track are the remains of two buildings separated by a yard or garden area. To the north of these buildings are traces of stone-walled field banks or boundaries while to the south there are the remains of another building with an enclosure to its east, field boundaries flanking the continuation of the track to the south, and a village iron water pump. A curving track branches off the lower track and climbs the hillslope. On the first terrace up the hillslope there are the remains of a two-roomed building with a single-roomed building to the north. Field boundaries and the curving track run up the hillslope while another boundary bank follows the western edge of this natural terrace from the north corner of the two-roomed building. The curving track continues upwards onto the next natural terrace. North of the track there are the remains of a building with traces of field boundaries, a triangular enclosure, a track and a possible building platform to the south of the building, whilst south of the curving track three short curved lynchets have been cut into the hillslope. On the highest natural terrace the curving track is crossed by another track running north-south. The curving track then forks, one branch leads to an oval-shaped enclosure while the other branch leads to the central room of a three-roomed building. A sub-rectangular enclosure, now crossed by a modern field boundary, lies to the east of this building and is linked to the oval enclosure by a boundary bank. Other earthworks including boundary banks and possible buildings or small enclosures lie to the east. The eastern edge of the medieval village here is defined by a prominent boundary bank. Another part of Dalton medieval settlement lies to the west of the access road to Dalton Old Hall. It includes the remains of a two-roomed building with traces of another partly damaged feature, possibly a small enclosure or building, a short distance to its north. A small three-sided enclosure lies east of the two-roomed building. Also in this area of protection is the undisturbed eastern part of an area of ridge and furrow which formed part of the associated medieval communal open field system where the crops were grown. A larger part of the associated medieval communal open field system lies to the south of the main part of the medieval village. This includes an area of ridge and furrow running up the hillslope and aligned east-west. Overlying much of the ridge and furrow, and aligned in the same general direction, are a series of well-preserved cultivation terraces interpreted as medieval strip lynchets which would have been used for agricultural purposes. All modern field boundaries, gates, gateposts, fences, fenceposts and telegraph poles and their supporting cables are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


SMR No. 2525, Cumbria SMR, Dalton mediavl village and field system ENE of Dalton Hall, (1986)
SMR No. 2525, Cumbria SMR, Dalton medieval village & field system ENE of Dalton Hall, (1986)
SMR No.2525, Cumbria SMR, Dalton medieval village and field system ENE of Dalton Hall, (1986)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].